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Vilnius – City of Ghosts

Vilnius Cathedral © by Ingvar Heinrich Lotc

In fact, some of the locations of Vilnius are teeming with creepy entities, by whatever name you call them

The Bible has dozens of references to spirits throughout. That is the word the Catholic Church goes with. There are good and evil spirits, all of which as otherworldly beings attest to the unknown world, its spiritual dimension.

“Vilnius has some really great stories about ghosts. Some of them are quite contemporary and parts of the stories date back to Vilnius’ tumultuous times: Napoleon’s descent, tsarist Russia’s occupation of Vilnius and even the pre-dawn times of the Lithuanian statehood,” says R. Aleksaite, a ghost tour guide in Vilnius.

Her ghost tour travels between the Cathedral belfry, the meeting point, to the Lower Castle, Eustachy Wollowicz Palace, Pilies street, Pagan God Ragutis Shrine, Vilnius Bastion, Gates of Subacius, Vilnius’ executioner City Hall Square and even the police station on Kosciuskos street, notorious nowadays, where creepy sightings and unexplained rattling are said to be daunting law breakers more than the prospects of long incarceration.

“There’s strong evidence that bildukas, a poltergeist, has been a real thing there. Both those booked into custody there and the police on duty tell about unexplainable loud steps, followed by a hoarse coughing, which has been heard for many years there,” the tour guide says.


The Kosciuskos bildukas is number one on the today’s poltergeist list

The 19th century police station sits a hand’s reach from the Gediminas Hill and has been one of the few these buildings that has only changed a little throughout the years.

The second in the unexplainable is Barbakanas, an ancient defense wall in the proximity of Gediminas Hill. Barbakanas is known for its “bloody” ferriferous spring, still trickling with the spooky-reddish water.

“The scholars, obviously, insist the color is due to the iron-rich layer of soil underneath. But a few popular legends point to the supernatural. One of them is related to 15th century Crusaders, when they presumably surrounded and slaughtered a garrison of Lithuanian men there. The legend purports soil got soaked with the blood of fallen defenders so much that it continues oozing from the depths,” Aleksaite explained.


“Fall through with all you have!”

The other legend implicating the spring is a folktale about a beautiful girl, a pampered daughter of a well-to-do Lithuanian merchant, who was totally in love with herself, her hound and rooster, according to the legend (there’s a very tiny and often hardly discernible line between legendary heroes and ghosts, the guide insists).

One day, when the father was gone, a beggar stopped by their mansion and asked the pretty girl for a slice of bread, but the arrogant lass sent her dog after him to chase him away. Fleeing, the vagabond supposedly cursed the young lady: “Fall through with all you have!”

The legend explains that, a few centuries later, a young, promising student was wandering near Barbakanas, the fortified outpost, when all of a sudden he heard a rooster crowing and a dog barking nearby. After finding an opening in the defenses, he stumbled upon a ghost of a beautiful sad girl. She still, the legend purports, haunts lonely handsome men at dusk – perhaps seeking salvation from the curse.


The priestess, who ruined the banks of the river Neris

Vilnius Ghosts

Another legend involving a girl’s ghost is about the priestess Usparime, who fell in love with a manly knight and sinned with him before throwing herself off the bank of the River Neris.

“They say, if there are superb weather conditions – glowing moonshine and no noise around, Usparime’s whining can still be heard above the waters and, once in a while, the priestess and her eternal lover, the knight, appear at night for a saunter under the moon-lit sky.


Ghosts are not only beings of the past

Ghosts are not only beings of the past, however. Some of the abandoned, derelict residential, industrial and particularly ecclesiastical buildings in Lithuania, like the dilapidating soulless Nevezininkai chapel in the Panevezys region, are also haunted by supernatural beings.

“My skin got goosebumps when, inside the chapel, a gust breezed by all of a sudden. There were shadows everywhere and gut-wrenching coughing. We went running to the car but we could not get it started,” a driver shared his horror story after stopping by the chapel.


Visiting places where known spirits reside is dangerous

Gate of Dawn (Medininkai Gate) with Ostra Brama church and wax museum in front<br /> Gates of Dawn<br /> "The Gate of Dawn (Lithuanian: Ausros Vartai, Polish: Ostra Brama, Belarusian: Âîñòðàÿ Áðàìà) was built between 1503 and 1522 as a part of defensive fortifications for the city of Vilnius, the capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. It has also been known as the Medininkai Gate, as it led to the village Medininkai south of Vilnius as well as Astra broma, which derivative for the Lithuanian language word astra meaning sharp.[1] Of the nine city gates, only the Gate of Dawn remains, while the others were destroyed by the order of the government at the end of the 18th century."

But Church pundits warn not to meddle with spirits. Any of them

No one should kid aroundfor self-amusement with spirits, warns Edmundas Rinkevicius, a Catholic Pastor in Ramygala in the Panevezys Region and also a well-known exorcist.

“Visiting places where known spirits reside is dangerous. The spirits can hunker down in the visitor’s body and get control of the soul, especially if the visitors are not prepared for that kind of encounter. So, the curiosity can ruin ones life at the end of the day,” cautioned the exorcist.


by Linas Jegelevicius
The Baltic Review
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